Thursday, January 28, 2010

All or Nothing?

Yesterday, the plan was to hit the gym after dinner (so it would be less busy and less competition for a treadmill). So, after work, I took a nice little nap, and when I woke up, I made roasted salmon & asparagus for dinner. And then I was done...

I was already in pajama pants, and all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch with my new Fitness magazine. Oh, the irony--lazily reading about fitness when I should be actually be doing some physical fitness. Kind of like eating pie while watching the Biggest Loser. Yes, this is what I did last night (although I did work out earlier that day).

I would have stayed there on the couch, too. But, B. dutifully got up and got his workout gear on and prepared to head out the door. So, I did too.

But my gym experience was less than optimal. My energy level had been in the gutter all day. So instead of a long treadmill run, all I could bring myself to do was 30 minutes on the bike doing a random hill program (while listening to the State of the Union on my NPR iPhone app) followed by a slooooow 15 minute random hill run on the treadmill.

I left feeling grouchy. There's nothing I hate worse than a workout that feels like a waste. Then I I got thinking...Well, I did burn around 350 calories. No, that's not as many as I usually like to burn, but isn't 350 calories better than the 10 (or however many) calories I'd have burned lying on the couch, turning magazine pages?

When I first started my get healthy journey, one of the things I changed was my lackadaisical approach to the gym. I had been going for 30-40 minutes several times a week but not working hard enough (i.e., reading a book on the sit-down bike or worse). To improve my results, I made gym time (or any other workout time) a time to push myself and work as hard as possible. If I wasn't burning as many calories as possible, what was the point? That's why I initially started running, by the way, because it burned way more calories in the same amount of time as other gym options.

So, is fitness an all or nothing game? If I don't feel like working out, should I give myself the day off and work out at full capacity the next day? Or, is something better than nothing? Is it okay to have an occasional off day where I just don't live up to my own standard, just so long as I moved my body a little?

I guess that's what a fit lifestyle is all about...figuring what combination works for you...I just have figured out which method will be sustainable for me going forward (especially once maintenance mode starts).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Change of Heart?

I think I've changed...When the thought I'm about to share occurred to me the other day, I was like "Who are you and what have you done with ME?"

When I started my get-healthy journey last March, I bribed myself to continue by buying extra special presents when I hit milestones along the way. There was a comforter, new jeans, shorts, new shoes, etc. But, the ultimate bribe was the one I'd planned for reaching my ultimate goal weight: my very own pair of black patent platform pumps from Louboutin.

But as my goal draws closer (11 lbs to go!!!), I'm not so sure this final gift to myself is what I really want anymore. Even though I've carefully saved the funds to purchase them, even though I've done thorough research online for the best price and the size I'd need, I'm just not sure I need or want a pair of Louboutins.

What?! you say...I know, I'm surprised at myself, too. The Angela I know and love would NEVER turn down the chance for designer shoes. But, hear me's my reasoning: 1. I work from home. I'd be able to wear them to work about three times a year (unless I'm going to sport them around the house). 2. I'm not sure a heel that high would even be office appropriate (at our particular office anyway). 3. When I go out on the weekend, it's rarely a dressy affair. 4. Should I really throw away $695 on one pair of shoes that will get minimal wear (even if they do last the rest of my natural life)?

I'm not sure I even need a final "Yay me" gift. At the risk of sounding like a cheeseball, my brand new body is pretty much gift enough. Liking myself again (both the image in the mirror and the inner self that feels like she can accomplish absolutely anything) is certainly gift enough. If anything, maybe putting that savings toward a really great vacation or even a nicer hotel for the Chicago Marathon weekend would be more satisfying. That, and maybe a good ice cream cone! =)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mama Needs a New Pair of Shoes!

First things first - 161.4 at weigh in this morning!

My reward for two weeks of self-discipline!

Meet my new running shoes:
Asics Kayano 16

I was super excited for a professional fitting, so I talked B. into going with me after work on Friday evening (with the promise of dinner my treat anywhere he wanted to go). He had to take a colleague to the airport after work, so it was about 6:30 before he came home, and I was ready to go when he got here. I wasn't sure what to wear...I knew I'd have to run in the shoes, so I went with yoga pants and my new Nike long-sleeve thermal running shirt. Turned out I could have worn just about anything, but now I know.

Fleet Feet was only scheduled to be open until 8 p.m., and when we got there at about 7:00, all three employees were with other people. I was super nervous they wouldn't have time to get to me before close. But the manager was just about to wrap up his sale, so while I waited, I looked over the shoes on display wondering what I was going to get.

The actual fitting was an eye-opening experience. He measured my feet sitting and standing and evaluated my arches, which are medium-high when sitting but flatten a little when standing. My old shoes were too big (10s). He measured me at 9.5. Since the wear pattern on my old shoes was pretty much mid-foot, we started with a pair of Asics neutral shoes with arch support inserts. They felt like a dream. I went out front of the store to demonstrate my run. I was oddly nervous about this--I always wonder if do anything weird when I run. Anyway, he told me I run pretty neutral with just a slight outward roll. So next, he put me in a pair of Saucony stability shoes with the same inserts. I didn't feel nearly as comfortable in these. They seemed way more narrow through the front of my foot. But, the manager told me they had corrected my pronation issues. So, he bought out another pair of stability shoes, Asics this time. These felt like the best of both worlds: They were comfy in all the right spots, but I could definitely feel the support in the mid-foot/heel area. I was a little disappointed that there weren't any color options. I had B. look online while I was testing them out, and even online blue/grey was the only other option. So, I went with the pink/white ones available in the store.

The best part? I have 60 days to try them out, and if for any reason I have issues, I can come back in and exchange them. He also told me that if I start to experience any new aches and pains while I have them to come in and they can see if there's just a small tweak needed to make them feel better. I had lots of initial issues with the NB 805's that I chalked up to being heavy and out of shape that may have been because the shoe didn't offer the best support.

I would definitely recommend Fleet Feet if you need shoes. They spent TONS of time with me, even though it was definitely after closing by the time I went to the register. No one was in a rush to get me in a pair of shoes and out the door. I also did a little research online after the fact, and I definitely got an equitable price...Things there were no more expensive than on the Internet. I'll definitely be going back in the future!

It's kinda rainy and gross this morning, but I'm hoping to take the Asics out on a little test run in a little while.

One last thought: what does one do with their old running shoes? My first thought was donation, but it seems rude to think that anyone, no matter how poor, would want my stinky, beat-up old kicks. Right? Can they be recycled?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Suburban Explorer

The weather has been "warm-ish" this week, so I've gotten back outside to run several times. HEAVEN! Running outdoors, I push myself harder and for longer than I ever do on the treadmill. Sunday, I even went on a 5-miler later in the afternoon after I'd been to a 90-minute yoga class that morning. Crazy, I know. =)

In this past week, now that I have a Garmin to track my distance, I've been trying to expand my horizons...literally. Before Garmin (B.G.), I mapped a route on to get an idea of where to go to get in the mileage I wanted. Since this was annoying and time consuming (the iPhone app that was supposed to work with my GPS never worked for me), I ended up running the same routes all the time. Now, I can just quick start Training mode or set a distance and go. On Saturday, I ran west down Clayton Rd into Ladue...turns out the sidewalk in front of my subdivision runs all the way to the interstate (and beyond, I think). Sunday afternoon, I cut through Clayton over to Delmar and did a little stint through the edge of U. City. I regularly cut away from the main roads now and run through the little neighborhoods and side streets.

Running is an amazing way to explore your city in a new way. You notice things you'd never see from the car. For example, on the routes I regularly run, I know there's been glass on the sidewalk outside an apartment building and it's been there since November. I know where the sidewalk slants at a weird angle or buckles unexpectedly. I've seen streets of gorgeous houses that I never knew existed. I've gotten to know who walks their dogs on certain streets on weekend mornings (Hi, lady with the two identical adorable Scotties on Davis!). I've even noticed businesses on side streets that I've failed to see driving by. Most unusual, I think, was noticing a monastery about two miles west of my neighborhood...Had NO idea. I'm psyched for warm weather so I can start venturing farther and longer and getting to know more areas of the city as I string together the miles for half and full marathon training.

In prep for that, I'm planning to get professionally fit for a new pair of running shoes, hopefully this weekend. My current pair, New Balance 805s, have been pretty good, considering I had no idea what I was doing and bought them online. Honestly, I bought them because I loved the all black w/ hot pink accents (What? I'm a girly girl). I love that they're light and don't have a huge heel build-up. But, they're technically trail shoes, so I had some issues with friction/blisters on the bottom of my foot. And, because they're so flat, they don't offer a lot of support, which starts to make my insole hurt after really long runs. So, for this pair, I'm gonna do it right. I'm going to try to let go of my fierce brand loyalty to New Balance and get what's really best for my body. I'm thinking Fleet Feet and probably a local shop Ghisallo where I've bought other equipment. Anyone else have suggestions local or otherwise?

Want to make your running safer? Head over to Endurance Isn't Only Physical and enter to win Tricia's giveaway for a free Road ID identification bracelet!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Looking for Inspiration

It's been a tough week...

I've spent all week trying to get my eating back on track: No chocolate in the house. No ice cream in the freezer. Eating veggies with lunch. Measuring servings. Staying as close to my calorie allowance as possible. Making good choices is hard sometimes. I'll start eating and feel that old mindless shoveling mechanism kick in...Take a deep breath and step away from the food; it'll still be there later.

I exercised consistently all week. Volleyball double header on Monday, cardio on Tuesday, strength and kick boxing on Wednesday, and (finally!) 5 miles outdoors on Thursday. Planning another tomorrow morning if these spring like (40 degree) temps hold out! I was about a half mile into my run when I remembered yet again, why treadmill running just isn't the same as pounding the pavement. It'd been almost a month since I was last able to be outside, and I felt like I was back to my late November endurance. I'll be honest, there were three or four 30 second walk breaks! It makes me nervous about gaining enough endurance to make it through 13.1 in April.

So, weigh in is technically tomorrow morning, but I couldn't wait to see if all my hard work had paid off. It hadn't...Since my all time low of 161.4 on January 2nd, I've rebounded a couple of pounds, and I really wanted it back off. But, no such luck. 164.4. I've been dancing around the same couple of pounds for months now. I'm so sick of it--really struggling right now. I feel like I'm doing everything I know how. But, there has to be something I'm missing. What is it? How do I ditch these last few pounds (14 now, boo)??? Is this just the world's worst plateau or am I doing something wrong? Should I try something extreme like a cleanse or keep trying to do this in a realistic way?

Just as I was feeling this way, though, I read a great reminder from KK on Running Through Life. Just because things are rough is no reason to give in to eating junk or slacking off. I'd literally been just about to go buy cookies. After reading it, I'm sitting here hydrating (love that H2O) and thinking about doing the healthy thing. Wish me luck =)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Props from the Doc

It was physical time again. That was where I got my reality check last year at this time to shape up or beware the health consequences. I used to dread going to the doctor and having to weigh and hear the "you really need to keep an eye on your weight" speech. It was so much more relaxing today. I used to wear the lightest clothing I could find so as not to add any embarrassing pounds on the scale. Today (in part b/c of the below zero temps), I wore jeans, a huge sweater, and boots and didn't sweat the couple of pounds difference from my bathroom scale. Because, let's face it, it's been a lot worse!

I won't know my cholesterol numbers for a couple of weeks, but my weight was significantly down on my chart, of course, and my blood pressure was a healthy 110/60. My doctor told me she was "thrilled" at my commitment to get healthy and active (and wished me luck in the half-marathon in April...apparently she'll be running too!). All I know is going to the doctor has gone from being a stressful, shame-filled experience to just another errand. I hope to keep it that way!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Secret

One of my neighbors (who seems to know way too much about what's going on in my life, even though I try to avoid her...) commented on my weight loss the other day. Then she asked the question I get a lot, "What's your secret?" This question, well meaning though I'm sure it is, has become a slight pet peeve of mine. Why? Because there's no secret to being healthy. There's no magical combo to losing weight. It's pretty cut and dry.

What's my big secret? Uh, just that you have to burn more calories than you consume. That means exercising more, whether that means you are going to start putting in 20 or 30 minutes a day walking or if you already exercise and need to push yourself a little more or try new things. Some people are okay with that one. "Well, you run," someone recently said. As if because of that one thing my body changed; as if because they don't like that activity, the same results aren't possible.

There's more to it than exercise (for me anyway). I could exercise an hour a day, but if I don't watch my calorie intake, it's not going to do a bit of good. That was the hard part for me to commit to in the beginning. Counting calories. Not in a crazy obsessive way. But, you have to know what you're putting in your mouth and how it's going to affect your goal to lose weight. I've said before that when I started counting calories in the beginning I was SHOCKED to realize exactly how much more I was really consuming than I would have guessed. Know your numbers!

And that's it...Barring some kind of other health condition, if you keep your calories within the daily limit for your BMR and exercise, you should lose weight and become healthier and stronger. There's no magic pill. And, don't even get me started about the Taco Bell diet. Are you kidding me?? The commercial makes me angry when the spokeswoman says, "I wanted to lose weight but I wasn't going to give up fast food." Really? I'm not saying healthy people never eat takeout. But, I will say that when I realized how counterproductive it was to my goals, I started visiting those drive-thrus significantly less often than I did before.

Changing your life requires some sacrifice. You might have to give up your venti white mochas (with their mucho calories) for something a little less fattening. You might have to make ice cream an occasional treat instead of your constant evening companion. You might have to miss your favorite show or get up earlier than you want to because there's work to do at the gym. There are things you'll have to eliminate, things you'll have to reduce, things you'll have to increase, and things you'll have to do whether you like them or not (hello, strength training). But guess what, when I started seeing the results of skipping Sonic, limiting sweets, and upping my intake of veggies and fruit, it didn't feel like such a huge deprivation anymore.

Maybe exercise and food awareness aren't the only ingredients to losing weight...Maybe there's one more very important, but certainly not secret, ingredient. Call it what you will: commitment, will power, determination. You have to be ready and willing to put the work in. As I found in the months and years of "trying to lose weight," if you're only sorta trying, you'll probably only "sorta" lose weight.

Stop looking for quick fixes and silver bullets. Stop imagining that people who have been successful got there easily or by magic. They did the work. If you want what they have, you have to DO THE WORK.

And, here's where I'll step off my soap box...*sheepish grin* If nothing else, this was a good pep talk for my inner dialogue about why I should get to skip working out today because it's 4 degrees. The gym is heated after all!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Numbers

For someone with a major math deficiency, I love to keep track of the numbers. Keeping track of my daily calorie intake is more like "fun" to me than a chore. Another example? Every day that I work out, I make an X in the corner of my desk calendar (kinda like a prisoner counting down the days...). Multiple workouts gets multiple Xs. At the end of each month, I count up the days I've worked out of 30 (or 31 as the case may be). Then, of course, I figure out the percentage. The best part comes at the end of the year when I figure the average amount of days I've worked out along with the average percentage for the year.

This year, I worked out...drum roll please...238 times. That's an average of 20 workouts a month, and on average, the number of days I worked out in a month was 65%. Not too shabby.

I could see a marked improvement in the numbers starting in March when my days for working out went up into the 20s. January & February were like 14 and 15 days. My max was 24 days in July. The only other month that was low was October, at 16 days, but part of that was due to having my wisdom teeth out and resting before my 10k. Overall nothing else kept me from getting out on the road or in the gym and doing what needed doing!

Here's to keeping that up in the coming year!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Plans for 2010

Yep, this is the requisite goals for 2010 blog post...

Here are a few of my fitness/health related goals for this year:
  1. Join a volleyball league (already started on this one: first game is 1/4!)
  2. Run a half marathon
  3. Run a full marathon
  4. Drink at least 64 oz of water a day (and no coffee until I have had at least 16 oz of H2O)
  5. Get back in the habit of making a healthy lunch at home instead of going out
  6. Eat MORE veggies at every meal (I struggle with this in the winter...)
  7. Reach my goal weight (11.4 lbs to go as of yesteday)
  8. Maintain my goal weight when I get there (that's a whole other journey)
  9. Get professionally fitted for running shoes
  10. Support B. on his own journey to health

It's going to be a great year full of challenges, I can feel it!